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Pope Francis visits VeronaEWTN/YouTube screenshot

VERONA, Italy (LifeSiteNews) — Pope Francis gave a group of prisoners from various religions a blessing “in silence” so that they could receive it “from God in the way they believe” during his visit to Verona on Saturday.  

He also told the inmates from Verona’s Montorio prison that “all religions, all cultures, look at the one God in different ways.”

“God is one: our cultures have taught us to call him by one name, by another, and to find him in different ways, but he is the same father of all of us,” Pope Francis said. “He is one.” 

“And all religions, all cultures, look at the one God in different ways.”

“Please do not forget, please pray for me and not against me,” he added. 

He also opined that “God has three main virtues: closeness, compassion and tenderness,” neglecting to note God’s perfect justice and holiness.

Francis concluded his remarks with the blessing. 

“Now I would like to give you the blessing, but I will give it in silence, so everyone receives it from God in the way they believe. A minute of silence, and I give my blessing to all of you,” he said.  

After a moment of silence, Francis continued, “May the Lord bless you, help you to always move forward, console you in sadness, and be your companion in joy. Amen.”

Francis notably did not use the sign of the cross or make any mention of Jesus Christ or conversion. 

Blessings, as sacramentals, are intended to sanctify the faithful with “the divine grace which flows from the Paschal mystery of the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Christ,” according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church. “From this source all sacraments and sacramentals draw their power.”

Sacramentals specifically “prepare men to receive the fruit of the sacraments” of the Catholic Church, the Catechism adds.

The Church teaches that Catholicism is the one true religion and firmly rejects the “mentality of indifferentism” which it states is “characterized by a religious relativism which leads to the belief that ‘one religion is as good as another.'”

Catholic teaching condemns the error that the Church is “one way of salvation alongside those constituted by the other religions, seen as complementary to the Church or substantially equivalent to her” and warns that the followers of such religions are objectively “in a gravely deficient situation.”

No one can properly recognize God as Father without also professing the divinity of Jesus Christ, His Son, and the Holy Spirit and belonging to the Church that Christ established:

All things have been delivered to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and any one to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him. (Matthew 11:27)

I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by Me. If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also. (John 14:6-7)

This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son. No one who denies the Son has the Father. He who confesses the Son has the Father also. (1 John 2:22-23)

There is only one God, and He is recognized as Father by those who, through faith in His only Son, are reborn of Him by water and the Spirit. (CCC 2790)

No one can have God as Father who does not have the Church as Mother. (St. Cyprian, De unit. 6: PL 4, 519)

Pope Francis’ remarks in Verona are the latest example of his years-long promotion of religious indifferentism, which has emerged as a major theme of his papacy. 

In 2019, Francis signed the Abu Dhabi declaration with Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb, Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, which states that “the pluralism and the diversity of religions… are willed by God in His wisdom.” The document has faced widespread criticism from Catholics, including renowned philosopher and friend of Pope St. John Paul II, Dr. Josef Seifert, who denounced it as “apostasy.” 

Later that year, Francis infamously blessed an Amazonian “Pachamama” idol statue during an indigenous ritual in the Vatican Gardens ahead of the Amazon Synod. 

The Argentine pontiff also has a record of discouraging conversion to the Catholic Church that predates his papacy. 

In 2016, he claimed that it is a “very grave sin against ecumenism” for Catholics to try to convert Orthodox Christians to Catholicism.

In addition to promoting religious indifferentism, Pope Francis has publicly contradicted Catholic doctrine on homosexuality, transgenderism, same-sex civil unions, “blessing” homosexual “couples,” the reception of the Eucharist by divorced and “remarried” people and pro-abortion politicians, the necessity of repentance for absolution, and the death penalty, among other things.